William Cowdery Jr. (father of Oliver Cowdery) was likely part of the "Rod Scrape" or "Wood Scrape" incident. After spending the winter with William Cowdery, a seer named Winchell joined Nathaniel Wood's "New Israelite" movement.
When searching for treasure, "Winchell held up his rod, got some motion from it, and told them the money was in an iron chest and covered with a large stone ... there was a 'divinity' guarding the treasure, and that if there was any lack of faith in any one ... this divinity would put the money forever beyond their reach.
However Winchell added a new dimension to the use of the rod when he taught Nathaniel Wood how to use it to receive revelations." Each of Wood's "Fraternity of Rodsmen" also had "a rod, which was used whenever they desired any information" including determining Israelite lineage through their rods.
Wood believed the gathering of Israel would occur not in Jerusalem, but in America and they planned to build a "New Jerusalem." They followed a religious dietary code, realized a need for angelic ministry, believed in an angelic tongue, looked for a restoration of primitive Christianity exercised spiritual gifts, and Wood received a revelation through his rod directing the building of a temple.
Oliver Cowdery's father was not only a likely participant in this movement, but lived with the man who introduced the concept of using a rod to receive revelations to the New Israelites.
Before Oliver met Joseph Smith, he had been receiving revelations through a rod.
[Source: Clair Barrus, "Sprout, Rod, Thing of Nature: Naming the Gift of Aaron," Mormon Chronicles, http://mormon-chronicles.blogspot.com/2011/05/sprout-rod-thing-of-nature-naming-gift.html]